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ELECTIONS 2020 JUDICIAL (FLEMING VAC.) Trowbridge on race, lessons, LGBT judges
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-02-24

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Brad Trowbridge has been an attorney for 20 years specializing in a wide swath of family law issues including, but not limited to, LGBT family matters, adoption and divorce at his Chicago-based law firm.

Trowbridge is running for a Cook County Circuit Court 8th Judicial Subcircuit vacancy in the March 17 Democratic primary. He has been rated qualified or recommended by every bar association that rates judicial candidates.

Windy City Times: Why did you decide to run again?

Brad Trowbridge: We need qualified judges and I believe I bring a unique set of skills to the bench so that is why I decided to run again.

Prior to being an attorney, I was a social worker who worked in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities in the late 1980s and early 1990s and that is something no other candidate can say.

I do not know of any judge who is an attorney with a counseling background and I think that is an important distinction because many of the divisions of law in Cook County involve human relationships. Understanding human behavior, child development, the dynamics of domestic violence, addiction and so forth would be a very important set of skills to have on the bench.

WCT: Are you doing anything differently on the campaign trail based on what you learned from your previous unsuccessful attempts in 2010, 2012 and 2018 to become a Cook County judge?

BT: One of my frustrations is that despite candidate's attempts to get information out to the public and other resources available for voters, I was told by a pretty savvy political director of a prominent Democratic politician that 75 percent of the people who bother to vote for judges do it randomly based on that candidates name and perceived gender.

When I ran in 2018, I was the only candidate to be rated qualified or recommended by every bar association that rates judges—and, yet, I did not win. It takes more than just bar ratings for a candidate to be successful.

During this campaign, I have successfully raised more money and this has helped me be more visible. I am putting a lot more money and energy into social media and sending text messages than in previous campaigns. There are candidates who think if you send five or six pieces of mail to all the voters that will sufficiently motivate them to vote for judges and many people have told me they do not read these mailers.

WCT: Your campaign website tagline is "because justice matters." What does that mean to you?

BT: Because of Donald Trump, people have become disheartened. They feel like the deck is stacked against them. One of the messages I am telling voters is that voting for judges is so important because justice still matters and we need honorable people on the bench. I urge every voter to research the candidates up and down the ballot and that includes judges because over 99 percent of all cases are decided by a judge, not a jury. We need to put forward candidates who are committed to justice for all people.

WCT: Do you have any Democratic primary challengers? What is the main difference between you and them?

BT: I have devoted my career to helping marginalized people, whereas my opponent, Jonathan Green, has worked in the corporate setting representing the City of Chicago and more specifically police officers accused of civil rights violations.

WCT: Should you become a judge, how will your 10-year social worker career and as an advocate for children and marginalized communities factor into your court rulings? Can you be objective in this regard?

BT: My first responsibility when I take the judges oath is to enforce and apply the law. I will not be an advocate from the bench but my sensitivity to people who are marginalized in any way will, within legal parameters, give me the ability to be creative in the orders I make.

For example, I can order people into addiction treatment or domestic violence abuser treatment. I can grant an order of protection for a specific person but I can also order the other party to get services to improve their behavior because a piece of paper will not solve the problem.

WCT: Why do you think it is important to have LGBTQ judges like yourself on the bench?

BT: Right now there are about 430 Cook County judges—and only 4 percent are out lesbian, gay or bisexual judges. I have said repeatedly that I should not be elected just because I am gay. I do think it is important to have LGBTQ judges on the bench because they can educate other judges. I have been told that white cisgender heterosexual judges will ask judges from minority group's questions that they cannot ask publicly due to their position and that their attitudes change for the better from those conversations.

Having a diverse judiciary allows every judge to make friends that they might not meet in their social lives. I also think it is important for people from all marginalized groups, and women in general, to see people like them on the bench.

WCT: Any endorsements you want to mention?

BT: [There include] Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, state Sen. Heather Steans (7th District), state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (14th District), Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th District), Cook County Commissioner Kevin B. Morrison (15th District), former state Sen. Carol Ronen, the Victory Fund, 43rd Ward Democratic Committeeman Lucy Moog, Sidetrack Owners Arthur Johnston and Jose "Pepe" Pena, Personal PAC and IVI-IPO.

WCT: What else do you think is important for voters to know about you?

BT: I am very independent and beholden to no party or politician and in fact think that all judicial races should be non-partisan. If you elect me, I will not owe anyone anything.

See BradTrowbridgeForJudge.com .


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